Friday, September 4, 2015

The martyrdom of Kim Davis

No doubt you have heard of Kim Davis who by now must be the most famous county clerk in the nation. One of her jobs is to hand out marriage licenses. Since the Supreme Court granted legitimacy to same -sex marriages her job -by law- is to issue gay couples marriage licenses. Ms Davis has refused for the reason that her religious beliefs won't allow her to. She is a Christian, a member of an Apostolic Church. I was not familiar with this denomination but they have a website with enough information to get a general idea of what they are like. Their beliefs are similar to a number of conservative Christian churches. Their worship style is non participative, instrument free, and male led. The men and women do not sit together and the lay preacher opens the Bible at the beginning of the service and preaches on wherever it opens up. I found that interesting. In seminary preaching classes, we had to do this as an exercise in thinking on your feet. The results were usually unimpressive. The Apostolic Church believes  preparation is a hindrance to the Holy Spirit''s work. They want to know what the Holy Spirit thinks on the spot. I have found when working with human material it is better to let the Holy Spirit take his time.

In the Statement of Faith of the Apostolic Church is the conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. That is the sticking point for Ms Davis. Apparently, she is stuck on the man and woman part of the statement. News sources have reported that she has been married four times which includes divorces, I assume. She does not seem to have trouble with remarriage. This could be due to the fact that she is a recent convert to the Apostolic Christian Church having joined in 2011. Now that she has seen the light she may not get divorced again. I don't know.

Some of the Republican presidential candidates such as Huckabee and Cruz have gone on record as denouncing the judge in Kentucky who ordered Ms Davis to jail for contempt of court as an attack on the Christian foundations of our country. These normally law abiding presidential candidates apparently do not believe Ms Davis broke the law of the land or disobeyed a judge's direct order. Or, if so, they believe that a Christian should be able to choose which laws they think their religious beliefs can tolerate. Interestingly, one of Ms Davis's assistant clerks who issued a marriage certificate to a gay couple today said it was the hardest thing she ever had to do (she was a preacher's kid, she said, as if that explained her anguish). Some people have an easier life than others.

Is Ms Davis a modern Christian martyr as some would make her to be or simply uneducated as to the laws of the land or theology? If she has only been a Christian for a few years she can be excused for not being up to speed on the history of Biblical exposition and theology with regard to marriage. However, as a clerk of the court who took an oath to uphold the laws of the land, she is without excuse. It's her job. She can do it or she can quit and do something else. She could study Apostolic Church doctrine (it has only been a denomination since the mid 1800's) and compare it to other traditions which have a much longer track record. She could read up on what her political party has said on the subject. She's young and hopefully her latest marriage will be long and satisfying but that takes a lot of work, too.

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